While Newry was safe from German bomber air attack, Belfast was not so lucky. On one of the worst nights of bombing hundreds of people were killed and streets of houses ‘bombed out’. I was only five years of age at the time but I remember the fire engines and the huge arcs of searchlights in the sky.
Many families blitzed out of Belfast came to Newry. Although some went back eventually to the city, many others settled permanently in Newry.
The Americans entered the War after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. A contingent of G.Is arrived in Newry around 1942-3 and was billeted in an old converted factory in Monaghan Street. This was close to my home. The cattle market which was located at the back of our hose was used as a drill yard. My aunts and I used to sit at our back upstairs window and watch the soldiers drill.
In the streets as they passed by they used to throw ‘candy’ and ‘gum’ to us kids. Some of my classmates had older sisters or aunts who ‘fraternised’ with the ‘Yanks’ – as the Newry folk called them. There were several GI brides from the town – and many other young women who were left with permanent souvenirs of the ‘occupation’. Some of the women of the town were not adverse to providing ‘comforts’ for the troops of any nationality. My aunt told me years later of houses in Castle Street used for this purpose. The ‘ladies’ concerned were known as ‘undercover girls’.